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Is the Lord’s Prayer Non-Denominational?

Is the Lord’s Prayer Non-Denominational?



For years, we have been closing Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with the Lord’s Prayer, as do many other groups. We sometimes have Jewish people attending, and I had been taught this was a universal prayer. Lately, by request, we have begun to consider closing with something else. What do you think?



It’s true that the Lord’s Prayer fits equally across all the Abrahamic traditions. It is similar in many ways to prayers that were popular among pious Jews in Roman times, including the kaddish prayer, and reflects traditional Jewish values. You may wish to read more on this in the relevant article in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

Nevertheless, Jews do not say this prayer. If a Jew attends an AA meeting where it is recited, he does not have to leave, but he should not recite it along with them. The reason is easy to understand: Its source is what is called “The New Testament.” The existence of the Jewish people is predicated on an eternal pact G‑d made with Abraham, and later with his descendants at Mount Sinai. A “New Testament” implies that this pact was somehow annulled. By reciting a prayer from a context that undermines the existential foundation of his people, a Jew feels that he is surrendering his unique identity to the ideology of the majority culture. It seems to me that this runs contrary to the aims and goals of AA, which looks to strengthen each member’s identity as a unique individual, with his own meaning and purpose in life.

Many AA groups and other 12-step societies have a practice of saying the 23rd Psalm, “The L‑rd is my shepherd . . .” The Psalms are revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and this one in particular relates closely to the theme of AA.

Please let me know if this helps,
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Discussion (71)
July 8, 2015
But I error not.
Paul Durant
July 6, 2015
attn paul idaho
"our" god ? the god of the new testament is not the G-d of the Bible
levi rapoport
July 2, 2015
Deuteronomy 13
Levi Rapoport: But I go after no other gods. I pray to our God. I thank our God. I know no other gods but our God.
July 2, 2015
what about deuteronomy 13?
July 2, 2015
attn paul idaho
Deuteronomy 13
levi rapoport
April 12, 2015
prayer at meetings
Organizations outside the church should remain secular as not everyone worships a diety.
Vermilion Bay
April 12, 2015
Psalm 23
David realyy got a major hit with P 23
March 23, 2015
Recognize All
Does this apply to other organizations than AA? References are all to AA and we open our non-AA meetings with the Lords Prayer to which I also object. In a multicultural world, all faiths should be recognized, if any.
Akron Ohio
December 29, 2014
Prayer is about looking inward, not babbling specific words to a particular deity. Why not encourage the members to have a few moments of silence at the end of the meetings. Those who may wish to say a silent prayer are not offending those who don't.
September 20, 2014
Strongly Disagree
I've been sober for over 10 years. Been working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous for 8 1/2 of those. im active in the jewish community, and in my local chabad community. Rabbi Friedman, I generally like your articles but would ask you respectfully to please not speak about things which you know nothing about. AA is non denominational spirituality. There is room for every religious background at the table. Here in Detroit we have a strong jewish recovery community, and i constantly hear jews gripe about having to go to churches for meetings, or about having to hear the lords prayer. The fact is that ALL of us did much more offensive things to our Judaism to use and/or drink. if we all put as much energy into removing our ego and sticking to what the book tells us to do as we spent being sensitive about the christian undertones of the program, we would all be healthier. I say this because by NOT saying the lords prayer in a meeting that says it, is making us different. which we arent!
Benji R.